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Jeff Beck – Ronnie Scott’s 2007 (no label)

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Ronnie Scott’s 2007 (no label)

Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, London, England – November 27th, 2007

Disc 1:  Opening, Beck’s Bolero, Breath Eternal, Stratus, Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, Behind The Veil, You Never Know, Blast From The East, Led Boots, Angel (Footsteps), Scatterbrain

Disc 2:  Good-bye Pork Pie Hat (intro) / Brush With The Blues, Space Boogie, Blanket (feat. Imogen Heap), Big Block, A Day In The Life, Blue Wind, Rollin’ And Tumblin’ (feat. Imogen Heap)

When Jeff Beck scheduled six shows over five days at the world famous Ronnie Scott’s Club in London’s Soho, it caused many to wonder how a top tier rock god will translate in such a small venue.  Ronnie Scott’s only holds 200 people and has recently had a $6 million makeover with no seat more then 50 feet from the stage. 

During a week where the shows were sold out, he played on November 29th before a crowd that included Brian May, Tony Iommi, Jon Bon Jovi and Jimmy Page.  Eric Clapton also was present and joined Beck on stage for the encore.  The run of shows drew a mixed reaction from the British music press.  Tim Cumming in The Independent writes:

“Beck looks in good spirits and up close and personal he is still the archetypal rock n roll hero. In action, Beck seems fused with his instrument, plugged right in to the music as the guitar is to the amp. This is a player revelling in what’s happening in the moment, the energy-probing intensity of his solos taking off into flights of invention.

“Even the barmen are rapt.  Aside from introducing his surprise guest, electronica artist Imogen Heap, Beck says nothing until a final, end of second encore ‘thank you’, but the music says it all. For once the hype is right; Beck’s run of shows at Ronnie Scotts will give other rock legends emerging from retirement Valhalla a run for their money.”  (“Jeff Beck, Ronnie Scotts, London”)

On the other hand, Jack Massarik writes in the Evening Standard:  “‘He’s the greatest guitarist in the world!’ a companion protested as I headed for the exit. Well, Scott’s manager Leo Green may believe so, but that screaming post-Hendrix machismo, executed on the uppermost six frets of the guitar, will never cut it with the jazz world. The packed crowd who stayed put looked like beady-eyed, middle-aged air-guitarists, re-living their sad youth.”  (“No Stars For Beck”)

Ronnie Scott’s 2007 is a complete DAT audience recording of the first concert of the run.  Beck is accompanied by his band drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, keyboardist Jason Rebello, and young bassist Tal Wilkenfeld.  It begins with the Leo Green saying, “Good evening ladies and gentlemen and a very warm welcome to Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.  Just before we get going a couple of announcements.  Please turn your mobile phones off, not that you really want to take a phone call this evening ’cause what you’re about to see is amazing.  Will you please give a very warm hand a welcome to the stage to an incredible band…give ‘em a hand.”  The show is instrumental except for the numbers where he is joined by Imogen Heap.  The set begins very conservatively with “Beck’s Bolero,” but soon wanders off into Beck’s style of jazz-fusion with “Breath Eternal.”

“Stratus” is a true “fusion” piece with Beck’s jazz-like improvisation over a basic rock beat.  But the real stand out track in the first half, and perhaps of the entire set, is the brilliant “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers.”  

This instrumental cover of the Stevie Wonder tune brilliantly highlights regret and remorse.  This is followed by Guitar Shop‘s “Behind The Veil” with its incongruous reggae beat and the funk flavored ”You Never Know.” 

The middle of the show get bogged down in the seven minute long “Good-bye Pork Pie Hat (intro) / Brush With The Blues,” but pick up again with the fun “Space Boogie.”  Keybordist Rebello shows his jazz chops with a nice piano solo in the middle.  Afterwards Beck says, “Look at this, my next guest.  My only guest.  The very lovely Imogen Heap.”

They proceed to play “Blanket,” her 1997 collaboration with Urban Species and a song she played at the iTunes Festival in London in July.   and proceed with her song “Blanket.”  An instrumental cover of The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life” closes the set.  The first encore is the brilliant “Blue Wind,” Jeff Beck’s most joyful tunes.  Heap joins the band again for “Rollin’ And Tumblin’.” 

Ronnie Scott’s 2007 is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with dull paper inserts with photos from the event.  It is limited to two hundred copies and so far is the only silver release to emerge from Beck’s engagement in that venue.  The sound quality, performance, and the special guest Imogen Heap make this a fantastic release worth having.

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Jeff Beck - Ronnie Scott's 2007 (no label), 2.3 out of 5 based on 5 ratings

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  1. Avatar of howard
    howard says
    May 3, 2008, 1:42 pm

    Even though I have admired his guitar playing over the years I’ve never listened to Jeff Beck’s music much. But after listening to this I will start listening more. One of the all time greats here lets his guitar do the singing. By far the best sound quality I have heard, astonishing.
    The only drawback, though small and unexplainable is the rudeness of people that go to a show only to chat and visit throughtout the performance. I listened to this with headphones and although not loud (thankfully), you can occasionally hear their annoying, mindless drivel. I am sorry but it brings back memories that I personnally have exsperienced at live shows and just don’t underestand why people bother to pay for a ticket so they can yap.
    Notwithstanding, this is one great show and a must buy.

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